Simply put, Kodi is open-source software designed specifically with home entertainment in mind – and it’s totally free. Although it was originally created for the Microsoft Xbox and called Xbox Media Center (XBMC), the software has continued to evolve – spawning a community of its own.
Unlike services like Chromecast or Plex, Kodi is managed by the non-profit XBMC Foundation, but it’s constantly being modified and upgraded by hundreds of coders around the world. Since its creation in 2003, Kodi has been shaped by more than 500 software developers and more than 200 translators.
What does Kodi do?
Designed to run on computers and home servers connected to larger TVs, Kodi pulls content directly to your front room. However, recent community-led products mean it’s now possible to run the software on selected smartphones and tablets.
What can Kodi play?
Kodi essentially turns any computer, smartphone or tablet into a digital set-top box or streamer, giving users the ability to stream files from the internet, a home network and local storage.
Unlike other TV streamers such as the new Apple TV, Chromecast 2 and Amazon Fire TV Stick, Kodi isn’t held back by licensing or a curated appstore, so it lets you download a range of community-made apps, and watch whatever you like.
What’s more, Kodi’s purpose-built UI makes browsing through your content simple. The software features what its developers call a “10-foot UI”, meaning it can be read from a theoretical distance of up to 10ft away – and thanks to a range of built-in codes, users can browse videos, photos and podcasts quickly and easily.
On smaller devices, Kodi offers a similar experience, but can be hooked up to a larger TV for big-screen viewing.
What’s compatible with Kodi?
Kodi is available on almost every device you can think of. The media centre software is easy to download, and compatible with OS X, Linux, Windows, Android – and even the Raspberry Pi microcomputer. For those using iOS, the process is slightly more complicated: iPhone users will need to make sure their phone is jailbroken before downloading it.